Ship sponsors help transfer crews

From left: PO1 Doug Bacon, Whitehorse Coxswain; Betty Coleman, Brandon’s ship’s sponsor; The Honourable Ione Christensen, Whitehorse’s ship’s sponsor; and LCdr Collin Forsberg, Whitehorse Commanding Officer. Photo by MARPAC Imaging

From left: PO1 Doug Bacon, Whitehorse Coxswain; Betty Coleman, Brandon’s ship’s sponsor; The Honourable Ione Christensen, Whitehorse’s ship’s sponsor; and LCdr Collin Forsberg, Whitehorse Commanding Officer. Photo by MARPAC Imaging

Lt(N) Joseph Martin, HMCS Whitehorse ~

Since their commissioning over 20 years ago, HMCS Brandon and HMCS Whitehorse have both been lucky to have extremely active ship’s sponsors. Both sponsors visited CFB Esquimalt in October to witness the hull transfer between the ships.

Betty Coleman, Brandon’s sponsor, has a long history of community service volunteering in Brandon’s namesake city, and has taken an active interest in the Maritime Coastal Defence Vessel since its keel was laid in 1997.

Having moved to the James Bay area, “Bad Betty” – as she is affectionately known – has accompanied Brandon on numerous sails throughout her tenure.

The Honourable Ione Christensen, Whitehorse’s sponsor and former Senator for Yukon, was the first woman to serve as Whitehorse’s mayor and as Commissioner of the Yukon. She has been an active part of Whitehorse’s history since 1996.

Also in attendance, and representing the City of Whitehorse, was Deputy Mayor Dan Boyd, a long-serving city councillor with a previous career in the Yukon construction industry.

All three attended a small ceremony and luncheon commemorating the hull transfer of Brandon’s crew into Whitehorse. Hull transfers are unique to the Kingston-class and normally coincide with Docking Work Periods. With a ship due to proceed to Point Hope Shipyards, its crew takes custody of the previous “down boat” and prepares it for future Force Employment.

On Oct. 10, the crew of Brandon bid farewell to their former ship as Whitehorse’s Yeoman hoisted Commanding Officer, Lieutenant-Commander Collin Forsberg’s pennant.

Both sponsors had the chance to speak and recall stories from their long association with the ships. The sponsors also spoke about how much being a ship sponsor has meant to them.

“You are my family now,” Mrs. Christensen told Whitehorse’s ship’s company.

Following the speeches, Mrs. Coleman handed out Brandon pins to the ship’s departing crew and Mrs. Christensen presented the crew with their new Whitehorse ball caps and ship’s crests.

After the ceremony, the ship’s company and their sponsors adjourned for lunch in the messes where the officers and crew got the chance to speak with the sponsors and Deputy Mayor Boyd about themselves, the ships, and life in the Royal Canadian Navy.

Having bid farewell to Brandon and now looking forward to a busy program of acceptance trials and work ups in preparation for a deployment in February, the new crew of Whitehorse counts itself lucky to have two tremendously supportive sponsors wishing them success along the way.

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